February 25, 2024

Press Release

USF researchers, Tampa Bay Partnership unveil Tampa Bay area workforce and affordability data

State of the Region reports show financial strain on the average Tampa Bay family has increased; however, the area has topped its competitors in closing the poverty rate gap

| 2/12/2024

Tampa, Fla. (Feb. 12, 2024) — The University of South Florida Muma College of Business and the Tampa Bay Partnership today released two key economic competitiveness reports that benchmark where the area stacks up against 19 similar metropolitan communities. This year's reports focus on the drivers behind workforce and affordability trends.

The findings, as well as insights into their causes, implications and the shared community challenges ahead, were revealed and discussed at the State of the Region community luncheon held today on the USF Tampa campus. Nearly 500 business leaders, community organizers and government officials attended.

The main findings from the 2024 Tampa Bay E-Insights Report and 2024 Regional Competitiveness Report show:

  • Tampa Bay, once again, is No. 1 in attracting new residents of all ages and has a strong business start rate.
  • The financial strain on the average Tampa Bay family has increased, with housing and transportation expenses accounting for nearly 57 cents of every dollar spent, compared to 54 cents last year.
  • Tampa Bay topped its competitors in closing the poverty rate gap.
  • Full-time work is not enough to make ends meet, and households are pulling from their savings to cover the gap. A college degree is becoming a financial necessity — 79% of jobs that pay more than $60,000 require a college degree. 
  • Attending college in Tampa Bay is a bargain. Students graduate with some of the lowest debt and graduate tuition is the most budget-friendly option among metropolitan peers.

USF researchers publish the 2024 Tampa Bay E-Insights Report, sponsored by Florida Blue. The Tampa Bay Partnership and collaborating partners Community Foundation Tampa Bay and United Way Suncoast create the Regional Competitiveness Report. 

Over time, the findings have illuminated successes and regional challenges. Both reports explore how the Tampa Bay area’s eight-county region stacks up against 19 similar-sized peer and aspirational metropolitan areas in key economic and socio-economic metrics. The publications also serve as a roadmap for local and state elected officials, public and private business leaders, and academic stakeholders to improve the region’s economic health and growth.

USF’s research analyzes real-time and traditional data to help better understand economic outcomes, affordability and talent pipeline trends. Data from Google Trends, Numbeo, Zillow and other sources derive a holistic picture of the inclusive economic health of the region.

“We are proud to co-produce State of the Region each year. Now in our seventh year, these reports have evolved into trusted tools employed by leaders to galvanize resources and unite efforts,” said GJ de Vreede, interim dean of the USF Muma College of Business.

Overall, the Regional Competitiveness Report shows that Tampa Bay has had year-over-year improvements in 34 indicators. The research tracks the economic competitiveness and growth of the region in 67 indicators that fall into five categories that drive the regional economy: economic vitality, innovation, infrastructure, talent and civic quality.

“The annual benchmarks that stem from our data are influential in building consensus and regional priorities and investments,” said Bemetra Simmons, president and CEO of Tampa Bay Partnership. “This year the narrative from the 2024 Regional Competitiveness Report celebrates the attractiveness of the region while walking us through how changes to supply and demand are influencing our housing market, transportation, and workforce recruitment and retention.”

Factors such as population and demography, the size of the economy and the presence of regional assets were considered in the selection of comparison communities.  They include Minneapolis-St. Paul, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Austin, Houston and Charlotte. To see a full list of the cities, go here.



About the University of South Florida

The University of South Florida, a high-impact research university dedicated to student success and committed to community engagement, generates an annual economic impact of more than $6 billion. With campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, USF serves approximately 50,000 students who represent nearly 150 different countries. U.S. News & World Report has ranked USF as one of the nation’s top 50 public universities for five consecutive years, and this year USF earned its highest ranking ever among all universities public or private. In 2023, USF became the first public university in Florida in nearly 40 years to be invited to join the Association of American Universities, a prestigious group of the leading universities in the United States and Canada. Through hundreds of millions of dollars in research activity each year and as one of the top universities in the world for securing new patents, USF is a leader in solving global problems and improving lives. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference. Learn more at www.usf.edu


About the Tampa Bay Partnership

The Tampa Bay Partnership is a coalition of regional business leaders joined by a shared commitment to improving the personal and economic well-being of Tampa Bay residents. Formally incorporated in 1994 and re-established in 2016 as a regional research and public policy organization, the Partnership works with the region’s top employers, along with a diverse group of government and nonprofit partners, to identify and address the toughest challenges facing our community, including transportation, talent and other emerging issues.

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